Simultaneously, the 24-employee company developed the 200-gram electro-optical/infared sensor gimbal and a digital data-link, in the hand controller, enabling both command-and-control and video signals to be carried over the same Internet Protocol-based radio link. The gimbal exploits “a breakthrough in motors,” eliminating stepper gearboxes to make the sensor more rugged, and offers point accuracy that will “blow away” the competition, he says.
Formerly privately held, Procerus continues to operate as a commercial entity with Lockheed Martin Mission Systems & Sensors. “They want us to operate the way we did, and not to change our tactics or marketing. They want Kestrel to be used everywhere,” says Titensor. “We will be rather independent. Lockheed Martin's Desert Hawk [small UAS] team operates that way, and they want us to be agile and fast.”
Deliveries of the still-unnamed VTOL micro-UAS are expected to begin toward the end of the year. The initial market will be military, with commercial demand depending on how soon the FAA opens up national airspace to civil UAS. The U.S. Army is opening up its small UAS program to competition, and Titensor sees commercial demand from first responders. “They have a demonstrated need, and the first requirements.”